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Analysis


Symbols, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

"Ulysses" is a dramatic monologue, a poetic form we usually associate with Robert Browning, a Victorian poet and contemporary of Tennyson. A dramatic monologue is a poem spoken by a single person (...

Speaker

Ulysses is the speaker of the poem that bears his name; he's a semi-retired soldier who's also a king. In many ways he's a lot like a vet you'd meet at the VA hospital, or your friend's grandpa who...

Setting

The poem takes place in several places in Ithaca; it starts by the hearth in Ulysses' palace or castle, then points to port, and then somehow ends up there. By the end of the poem, we think that Ul...

Sound Check

Tennyson's poem is a lot like Mel Gibson's famous speech in Braveheart, or any other speech one might use to rouse a group of soldiers to action. You can't start out yelling because you won't have...

What's Up With the Title?

"Ulysses" is the Roman name for the Greek hero Odysseus, the mythical king of Ithaca who fought in the Trojan War alongside Achilles, Agamemnon, Menelaus, and others. He spent ten years fighting in...

Calling Card

There are a lot of things one could say about Tennyson's poem, but the signature in this poem has got to be the proverbial phrase. So many of the lines in this poem read like lines out of a book of...

Tough-O-Meter

For the most part Tennyson's poem is relatively straightforward. At a few moments, however, it gets tricky and requires some ingenuity on the part of the reader. Lines like "All experience is an ar...

Brain Snacks

Sex Rating

There is nothing sexual about this poem; Ulysses only mentions his wife once, and he practically complains about her age. Ulysses has other things to worry about besides sex, like sailing and explo...

Shout Outs

William Shakespeare, Hamlet Act 4, Scene 4, lines 23-25 (4-5)William Shakespeare, Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Scene 3, lines 144-147 (22-23)Dante, Inferno, Canto 26 (57-62)Homer, Odyssey (whole po...
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